In our typographic world, the word ‘influential’ suffers from over-use. The description is entirely apposite, though, for the Swiss designer and educator, Armin Hofmann. Helmut Schmid discusses Hofmann, with examples from his work for the ‘Kunsthalle Basel’. Richard Doubleday traces the period of Jan Tschichold’s life while at Penguin Books. Tschichold’s typographic rules for Penguin remain as benchmarks for book design. In contrast the work of Wilhelm Deffke is memorable for its bold, geometric, graphic quality. Having uncovered some stunning images of Deffke’s early logotypes, Steven Heller fills in the details. Photo-graphics, notably those of Herbert Matter, take centre stage next, through a thorough critical analysis from Kerry William Purcell, that takes in both Matter’s work in Switzerland and from his career in the US.
Freedom of expression is sometimes hard-won. The Oz trial, in 60s’ London, saw the underground press battling to editorialize the newfound sexual freedom. Caroline Archer takes us back to that period. Time to break out the flares.
In the years following World War II, book publishers like Penguin sought the best typographic talent in Europe and offered designers unparalleled artistic freedom. When Penguin Books publisher Allen Lane (1902–70) brought in Jan Tschichold (1902–74), he may have been unaware that this would set the standard for book design in Britain over the next three years. Tschichold’s redesign of Penguin Books in the late 1940s revolutionized typographic conventions.
By the time Tschichold arrived at the company from his native Germany in March 1947, paperbacks had become a popular form of mass media, and Penguin Books in particular provided the general public with a wide range of affordable, easily attainable, and exceptional literature. Penguin Books’ design, however, fell far short of their literary reputation. Before Tschichold’s arrival, he had requested samples of
a number of Penguin books and soon realized that composition rules and standards were virtually nonexistent
at the company, as the production department depended on sample pages and different sets of house rules supplied by printers employed by Penguin. In addition, Old Style No 2, Gill Sans and Times New Roman were the only fonts being utilized throughout the series…
For over half a century, Herbert Matter pioneered a form of graphic photography that transcended the narrow limitations of what had been deemed possible in the medium’s short history. Continually challenging the literal image and the fetishistic desire for pure prints uncorrupted by manipulation or artifice, Matter identified the photographic process as permeable, continually suggestive to experimentation and adaptation. It was by viewing the traditionally subservient role of the camera as only one of many routes to original imagery, that Matter liberated photography, permitting ideas, impressions, and inspirations to come from any quarter or realm.
‘Photography’, he once said, ‘stands alone in the world, without family or inheritance, and within its basic rules and essentials the photographer must find his ‘security’ – security that he has the gift of intuition to recognize the aesthetic and pictorial value in his medium … According to his feelings he would be inspired by nature or science, by abstract or dream images, or he would find ways to penetrate the world and find realities unknown to the human eye. But always his ultimate aim would be to enrich visual sensation, to enrich human knowledge…
©2006 Bradbourne Publishing Ltd.